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A stoop sitter contemplates his native New Orleans

It was 85 degrees. I spent the entirety of the evening embracing stoop culture.

The date was November 22 — last Tuesday — and as the young and educated populace of my neighborhood packed their small travel bags and departed to the greater Northeast or Midwest, regions not known for their intoxicatingly warm winters, I remained seated on my stoop, shielded from the desperate sun in an oversized flannel shirt and sweatpants.

Far away, in other places, there were thoughts of snow and lit fireplaces, burly sweaters and equally burly relatives munching on turkey and stuffing. Here in New Orleans, such fantasies remained as they are, wistfully dreamlike.

During the off week that led up to and included that sacred day of turkey, I committed myself to the timeless pursuit of subdued addiction. Spending my time ambling between bed, living room couch, front porch, and nearby drinking establishments, I enjoyed an impractical amount of time considering life and the hurdles and hecklers who inhabit it.

This careless think tank where I chose to incubate my time forced upon my vacation a reevaluation of the place I have always called home.

Time passed in quiet contemplation. Inhaling a breath of warm, muggy air through the paper-thin processor of my cloudy thoughts, a warm feeling enveloped my being. A sense of appreciation suffused my thoughts.

Here I understand the city and the city understands me. We engage each other in ways that cannot be replicated in other places, with other people and other mindsets. Rather, here in this place that I call home a reciprocation of love is much like the kind of service you get at Commander’s: not only provided, but expected.

As the contemplation of far-off destinations and offers of endless adventures meant only to feed the fodder for a future novella are laid before me like a well-stocked buffet, no notion is as strong as the hesitation induced by the thought of leaving.

A week on a porch in muggy November weather can catalyze any doubts about one’s place in the world.

Such certainty is a bulwark against the impending flood of reality that will crash upon my doorstep come Monday and the return to work. As I regain my place in the understaffed commotion that is the academic world, my mind will be set on the idiom, “onward and upward.”

Bigger and better things await me, one step at a time. Well, perhaps not one step at a time. But certainly not a step outside of New Orleans.

Joh Sedtal grew up on the north shore, and writes about New Orleans people, places and events for NolaVie.


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